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a russian military base there, as well as ethnic russians living in the region. let's go to nbc's jim maceda with the very latest on this. jim, let's get the latest. are we seeing something that could be another cold war brewing here between the u.s. and russia, ultimately? >> reporter: alex, well, the first sign things were going seriously south today was this morning when russian foreign minister sergei lavrov said that ukrainian power militaries actually attacked the ministry in crimea, wounding several people, presumably ethnic russians. despite there being no confirmation, no evidence of that, that alleged threat to russian compatriots in ukraine triggered a quick escalation, which russia has used many times before to justify an invasion. first the leader of ethnic russians in crimea called on president putin to send forces in to protect them from hostile extremists. then very quickly putin replied, requesting the use of force. and as you said in your lead, getting that request from force from the parliament. all that happening within just hours. now, that doesn't mean, alex, that putin
joining me now from moscow is nbc's jim maceda. jim, with a good evening to you. a lot of diplomatic salvos being tossed back and forth here. but what's happening on the ground in crimea? >> reporter: hi, alex. you're right. it's hard to keep up with them all. tonight, crimea looking pretty much neutralized. russian forces have now been moving freely around the peninsula for a couple of days because they are mostly off the streets. they and the armed vigilante groups, if you will, are in control. airport, the telecommunication towers. today as you alerted, units of russian troopser driving to various ukrainian military posts trying to persuade the ukrainian soldiers to hand over their weapons. and then surrounding the posts of those who refuse to disarm. just taking them out of operation. so despite all of the appeals that we're hearing from the united states, from kiev. from the west in general, those diplomatic salvos, as you call them, to put his forces, putin's forces back, to pull them back, crimea today effectively is in vladimir putin's hands, alex. >> okay. so, jim, the new u
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